AFRICOM headquarters in Africa…why not?

AFRICOM HQ building, from https://www.dabangasudan.org

The US military in Europe is in a bit of a shakeup. After years of tolerating Germany’s low military investment, President Trump announced that 12,000 troops would move out of Germany, many of them moving to Poland, which has been investing in its military. Because of the “Orange Man Bad” complex, somehow the fact that this saves us money over the long term, is part of continued investment in a country that will be purchasing more US energy resources, and places troops closer to Russia as a deterrent seems to be lost in the media. It’s a smart move economically and strategically.

The shift of forces includes moving the US European Command headquarters to Belgium and the US Africa Command headquarters to…somewhere. But not Africa, according to a few news sources. When AFRICOM stood up, placing it in Stuttgart initially made sense, since many of the staff members came from the EUCOM staff. But AFRICOM’s lack of presence in Africa isn’t smart long term. The US should be more invested in Africa, and moving AFRICOM to Africa would help that investment.

Where in Africa? The best spots are Nigeria, Morocco, Ethiopia or Liberia. Nigeria is a long-term powerhouse in Africa. Not only will it become one of the world’s most populous nations, but it has a positive view of the US and has a democratic government. Morocco was the first nation in the world to recognize the US and we’ve maintained friendly relations for most of our countries history. Ethiopia is another democratic powerhouse in Africa. Liberia, while not as developed as the other three, is still a good choice given its close history with the US.

There is some concern about “militarizing” Africa, but I contend that’s a poor argument. Did we militarize Europe by stationing troops there, or did we stop a continued trend of larger and larger wars that seemed to erupt between European powers? We’ve had a longer peace since the US stationed troops in Europe. Other nations are directly moving into Africa, and while some seem altruistic (like France), others are not aligned with the US (Russia and China). We can’t counter these large investments with minimal footprints.

There are plenty of good options for AFRICOM to be in Africa. Africa is only going to get more important in coming years. We’re either all in on Africa, or we cede that ground to China.

This post represents the views of the author and not those of the Department of Defense, Department of the Navy, or any other government agency.

Splitting the Difference between Conservatism & Jacksonianism

The whole point of Jacksonianism is “You leave me alone and I’ll leave you alone. You play fair with me and I’ll play fair with you. But if you fuck with me, I’ll kill you.”

Steven Den Bestie

4th Doctor: Well of course you swore an oath! Now you have to choose. Your personal honour against the safety of the whole of Traken.

Nyssa: Yes, father.

Tremas: I can’t, Doctor.

4th Doctor: Well, that’s fine. That’s fine, Tremas. I mean, when this thing has taken over the entire Source you’ll have the consolation of knowing that you kept your honour intact.

Doctor Who, The Keeper of Traken 1981

The President’s executive order splitting the difference on extending Unemployment benefits and other COVID business is both smart and dangerous.

Mind you I’m not talking about measures in the order itself. The questions of extending federal unemployment bonus, student loan and eviction extentions are all fair ones for debate. Trump’s move splits the difference between both sides. I think the tax holiday for payroll taxes is a bad idea because it will bite a lot of people later (I’ll be increasing my extra withholding to play it safe) all in all it’s a fair compromise on it’s own but again I’m talking the order itself, not what’s in it.

I’m not by nature a fan of executive orders to begin with. I don’t belong to the pen and phone club. While executive orders do have their place the idea that they will be used to break a congressional deadlock (even if the measures are allowed by law as in this case) is a bad, I would say even a dangerous precedent to set. The conservative in me doesn’t like it.

Then the Jacksonian in me speaks up. A tactic that is used by my enemies against me is certainly a tactic that can be used by us against them. Furthermore by playing hardball the President puts the left in a box to either make an actual deal or let him get credit for the unemployment benefit extension. The fact that he did so while detailing the Democrat wish list in the bill makes the point even better and given how critical this election is you have to be willing as his predecessor once said: “Punch back twice as hard.”

But there is also another lesson here. Just as the Democrats (as they were warned) have been made to pay for tossing the filibuster allowing 51 votes for Trump judges and for over-reliance on the executive order to make laws without, you know actually making laws the old fashioned way through congress, if this stands then there is no reason to think that the next Democrat President (and there WILL be one, just not Joe Biden) doing the same

So the problem is this: How do we cut the Gordian knot of Jacksonian battle with the left while preserving the principle of limiting the power of a chief exec to make laws by fiat. The answer actually is pretty simple.

Introduce a bill to remove the underlying laws allowing said orders.

The solution is simple which makes it hard to do. The GOP of course doesn’t want to handcuff this president in the face of Democrat intransigence while Democrats may balk as they will want this power in the future.

President Trump won’t be president forever and it would be a really good idea to get something like this over the hump before his 2nd term ends A push for a repeal of such laws, playing it up as a “Stop Trump” measure to the media/left whose base would likely fall for it.

Would that mean a little less leverage for President Trump in dealing with the left? Sure, but he has proven himself able enough to novel them in other ways. Such a bill would come late enough to allow this President to use this Jacksonian tactic for a while, and still satisfy that Conservative instinct to slow government and restrict its power.

If something like this can be passed during Trump’s 2nd term it would go a long way toward restoring “regular order’ and forcing the congress to do the job is it elected to do. We likely will never get another chance to get something like this done.

Of course the best solution would be a functional congress, but that frankly isn’t possible with the current makeup of the Democrat party but until it happens as Don Surber puts it:

Somehow, the Supreme Court and presidents now write the law but Congress does not. We really should fix that. Democrats can go first by declaring DACA invalid.

Until then, you fight the battle with the weapons you have.

The time to fight that fight will be after we win.